According to Todd Haynes, even the best actors experience fear, including Heath Ledger, Julianne Moore, and Cate Blanchett.

Why do you enjoy putting Julianne Moore through hell? She seems nice. Seriously, though, what is it about her that has kept you returning to that working relationship for almost 30 years? penny_lane00

I am able to discuss extensively the motives behind this. It was impressive that, on my second movie Safe, we discovered her to be so well-developed in her acting career. She possessed a strong grasp on the medium and comprehended the nuances that the camera captures even when filming. There have been moments that I only notice when reviewing the footage.

Additionally, she shares my interest in narratives and individuals who are vulnerable and struggle to express their true selves and desires. These characters may be discovering themselves and might not achieve their goals by the end of the story.

During the month of May, the personalities of Gracie and Natalie are presented as individuals from vastly different backgrounds. One is an actress researching her role as Gracie, while the other is the subject of a film that focuses on a scandal from 25 years ago. As the movie progresses, the two women become increasingly similar in their tendency to avoid introspection.

Julianne Moore in the 2002 film Far from Heaven

Your work is very diverse. How do you decide which film to commit to? zebalby
I think [the German film-maker Rainer Werner] Fassbinder once said the best directors just make the same movie over and over again. People have definitely put my films into thematic through-lines: films that deal with domestic stories and female subjects in one category, and films that deal with artists and musicians in another. In both, I’m interested in places where identity is called into question by circumstances or by artistic practices.

However, I believe the common characteristic among all directors is that we do not perceive our films as being repetitive: we strive to explore something new with each project, whether it be in the genre, setting, language, or historical context. Therefore, it is gratifying to hear someone acknowledge the diversity in my films.

One intriguing aspect of my films, unintentionally, is that they attract specific and unique audiences. Many people claim, “Velvet Goldmine is my movie,” but are not familiar with my other works. This is because all of my films originate from the outskirts and therefore do not cater to mainstream audiences.

Out of all your films, Far from Heaven is my top pick and stands out as one of the most visually stunning color films to date. Notably, having Elmer Bernstein compose the score was a brilliant decision. Did you employ any unique filters to achieve the iconic 1950s Universal International, Douglas Sirk aesthetic? Barrywerks

The movie Far from Heaven was one of the few remaining films that we did not complete using digital technology. We utilized traditional methods of adjusting color, meaning that everything you saw was created in a classic way. There was no digital enhancement involved – we used vintage cameras, filmed on actual film, and utilized vibrant colored gels on the lights. Interestingly, when we filmed the fall scenes in New Jersey, everything seemed to come together perfectly. The costume designer, Sandy Powell, had already designed the outfits in shades of autumn leaves, and by chance, the real foliage matched the costumes in a stunning way. It was simply meant to be.

Heath Ledger in 2007’s I’m Not There


Can you explain your thought process behind casting Cate Blanchett as Jude Quinn in I’m Not There? Was it a sudden realization or a decision made from the beginning to cast a woman in that role?

The idea was always for a woman to play the character of Jude, and it stemmed from a very specific concept. Many people incorrectly associate the aesthetic of that particular story with Don’t Look Back, but it was actually inspired by Dylan’s transition to electric music, which was captured in color footage by DA Pennebaker and later became the experimental documentary Eat the Document.

Dylan underwent a dramatic transformation between 1965 and 1966, becoming noticeably thin and wiry. He had a strangely androgynous appearance and moved around like a puppet. It is likely that drugs played a role in this change. This version of Dylan was unlike anything we had seen before, yet it was the most well-known Dylan from albums like Blonde on Blonde and Highway 61 Revisited. In telling the story of Jude, I wanted to capture the sense of strangeness and surprise that surrounded Dylan during this time. However, as he has become somewhat of an icon, the shock factor has diminished. To counteract this, I aimed to add an extra element of surprise to my portrayal of Jude.

Who would portray him was a completely different matter. I was actively pursuing Cate, despite receiving impressive audition tapes from other talented actresses. I was persistent in my pursuit, which made her nervous as playing Dylan was a significant undertaking, especially portraying that version of Dylan. But I had faith in her abilities and just needed her to see it as well, which she eventually did. Every exceptional actor I have collaborated with has experienced initial fear when starting a project. That fear is what makes them so incredibly talented.

Cate Blanchett as Jude in I’m Not There.

Can you tell me about your experience working with Heath Ledger on the film “I’m Not There”? – Natalia

Heath was a highly talented and introspective actor whom I had the pleasure of collaborating with. He also displayed exceptional skill as a director. He had prior experience directing music videos and short films, each with their own unique style. Some were reminiscent of musicals, with intricate choreography similar to those of Bob Fosse. Others had a raw and personal aesthetic, pushing the boundaries of avant-garde cinema. He had aspirations to direct a feature film. During our time together in Montreal for the film “I’m Not There,” Heath chose to stay put while other actors came and went due to their busy schedules. He wanted to maintain the creative atmosphere we had established. We also attended the Venice Film Festival together, where our film was premiered. Though we did not have any expectations for awards, we simply enjoyed each other’s company until the end.

Julianne Moore’s portrayal of Carol in Safe is one of the most impactful performances I’ve ever seen. The film itself is a masterpiece that continues to hold relevance with each passing year. I’m curious to hear your thoughts on the growing trend of “self-help” and what you think the character of Peter Dunning would be up to today.

The main themes in Safe revolve around our internalization of the reasons behind our illnesses and our willingness to hold ourselves accountable for our physical weaknesses, as well as the industry that has emerged from this. It’s similar to a free-market mentality, where individuals are responsible for their own well-being and conditions. However, this also serves as a way to excuse or overlook cultural and social factors that contribute to our suffering. In a cruel yet relatable manner, we are made to believe that we have the power to improve ourselves if we simply love ourselves enough or follow certain guidelines. This may seem empowering, but it ultimately leaves us subject to forces beyond our control.

During the time when HIV and Aids were prevalent, it was commonly believed that self-love could prevent the diseases. This belief was often promoted by writers like Louise Hay, who would tell people with Aids that if they loved themselves enough, they wouldn’t get sick. This idea is similar to the statement made by a cancer survivor, who suggested that humans would rather take responsibility for their illnesses than admit that they are simply victims of chaos. It’s like a child whose parents are getting divorced and they blame themselves, trying to make sense of a situation that is out of their control.

Could you tell me about a particular moment or revelation that you experienced while creating your film The Velvet Underground, which provided a significant impact on your perception of the band’s legacy and their impact on the music world? – NenadGeorgievski

The idea behind creating this film was heavily influenced by the experimental films from 1960s New York. The challenges we faced were financing the project and obtaining music licenses, which proved to be difficult obstacles to overcome. Our interviews with those who were present during that time revealed the close connection between the band and the avant garde cinema scene – not just the art world and Andy Warhol’s visual happenings, but also the film culture of that era. John Cale even lived with Jack Smith and created soundtracks for his films. The Velvet Underground acted as a sort of house band for Jonas Mekas’s expanded cinema series before they officially formed. Our goal was to introduce younger audiences to this incredible cinema and its connection to the music, providing a new perspective on both. Hopefully, this film allowed you to appreciate both the film and the music in a modern and relevant way.

Jonathan Rhys Meyers as Brian Slade in 1998’s Velvet Goldmine

I am a great admirer. I am interested in obtaining the end result of the events that occurred during Velvet Goldmine. Being a fan of Bowie, I find it amusing and fantastic; however, I also believe it is unjust towards him. It is effortless for me to hold both of these views – I cannot understand why others strongly criticize it. Liz1976

Unfortunately, he did not want to share his songs with us, even though we requested seven of them. This ended up being a positive for the film. However, I was disappointed that he was unable to see the strategy, unlike Dylan. I was using his own works and inner thoughts, based on our personal interactions. Despite previously embracing his camp and queer period while working on Serious Moonlight, he later rejected it. He was constantly in conflict with himself as an artist, which is something that great artists often experience.

The film Velvet Goldmine has faced some challenges in England, as people have strong opinions about it. However, the film’s main focus was on the collaborative process between glam rock and its fans, which was unprecedented in popular art. Fans were able to dress up and fully immerse themselves in the experience, similar to how The Rocky Horror Picture Show was a product of glam rock culture and created a ritual of reenactment and audience participation. Velvet Goldmine aimed to capture this same fever dream for its fans.

I can’t remember exactly what Bowie said, but it was something like, in a funny way: “Oh yes, I can see this is a gay film-maker’s take on that time.” I appreciate that. I’m like: dude, you started it. And I will be for ever grateful.


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